Who's in charge here?: A literature review of approaches to leadership in humanitarian operations


This paper is the result of an extensive literature review, which considered documentation from international humanitarian organisations and from other fields, such as civil defence, the military, and emergency medicine.

It considers some of the assumptions that we commonly make around operational leadership, and investigates the potential relevance of alternative approaches to leadership, and how they might be implemented in the international humanitarian system.

In so doing, the paper creates some broad hypotheses, which we intend to test ‘in the field’, and in collaboration with members of the ALNAP network. As such, this paper is part of a process that aims to ensure that investments in improving the effectiveness of humanitarian leadership achieve the greatest possible impact.


  • Publication language: English
  • Pages: 92pp
  • Suggested citation: Knox Clarke, P. (2013). Who’s in charge here? A literature review on approaches to leadership in humanitarian operations. ALNAP: London